by Matt Landers, Public Policy Manager
| May 01, 2019
GSBA is proud of the important victories we achieved in advancing our priorities during the 2019 Washington Legislative Session that ended on Sunday. GSBA members, Board, and staff have been in Olympia every week of the session advocating for issues of importance to our members and to our communities. Some of our biggest victories this year include:
- Establishing a statewide LGBTQ Commission | GSBA has been the lead organization for 5 years on this effort to reduce inequities for LGBTQ people. Having an official and recognized voice for our community opens doors to inclusion for LGBTQ people where we have often been left out. It provides an important resource for state departments and agencies to ensure they are addressing the needs of our community. The Commission will be comprised of 15 community members appointed by the Governor and 4 non-voting legislative members. The composition of the Commission is intended to reflect the full diversity of the LGBTQ community across Washington.
- Passing Initiative 1000 | Over 400,000 Washingtonians signed an Initiative to the Legislature to end the restrictive rules established by I-200, the 1998 initiative that led to a significant decrease in opportunities for women and minorities in employment, education, and public contracting. I-1000 opens the way to fairer treatment for minorities and women in our state. GSBA is proud to stand with the organizations and activists who have worked for more than 20 years toward this goal! [Crosscut]
- Preventing harassment and bullying of transgender students in our schools | GSBA was able to share the experiences of many of our Scholars and how this law would have supported them [Whibey News-Times]
- Eliminating barriers to reproductive healthcare for transgender people and undocumented immigrants | The House of Representatives removed provisions around undocumented immigrants. This part, which GSBA strongly supports, was successfully funded in the budget even though it is not in statute. [Rewire]
- Modernizing Washington's Vital Records laws to better reflect the LGBTQ community, including nonbinary gender identities.
- Updating Washington’s Hate Crimes laws, including higher fines for committing one and officially changing the language from “malicious harassment” to “hate crime.” [Spokesman-Review]
- Prohibiting the use of prior wage or salary history to set pay, ensuring fair wages for communities that often experience wage discrimination, including LGBTQ people.
- Supporting the De-Escalate WA Coalition by increasing police accountability in deadly shootings with de-escalation training and other reforms. [MyNorthwest]
GSBA lobbied against a number of poorly written bills that attacked legitimate independent contractors and would have threatened thousands of small businesses across the state.
There were a number of bills GSBA supported which did not make it through the Legislative process in 2019. We look forward to working with our many partners next year on issues like banning the use of gay/trans-panic defenses, removing exclusions for transgender people in mental health parity laws, and creating a small business bill of rights.
If you would like to get involved or learn more about GSBA’s advocacy work throughout the year, please contact us. Our upcoming online Policy Roundtable event on Monday, May 20 will feature a recap and discussion of all the LGBTQ-related bills that were introduced in 2019.